with the goal of reducing drought risk. One part of this might be to develop more competitive research grant programs to fund research on drought prediction. In particular, there is a need for enhanced observations and research on both the paleoclimate record and the drought-related dynamics of ocean-atmosphere coupling. Another idea might be to form a consortium of scientists to encourage collaboration on drought prediction. New funding mechanisms might be needed that explicitly encourage multidisciplinary research bridging the gap between physical and biological science and human needs. Finally, it might be useful to develop a network of scientists and end users to assess the practical needs of end users and how forecast information can be communicated more effectively to the user community to maximize its application.
Assess the economic, social, and environmental impacts associated with drought. Unless we improve our understanding of human behavior, the best intentioned plans will continue to produce less than desired results. The inadequate assessment of drought costs continues to be a significant problem in communicating the importance of drought mitigation to the management and policy communities. More accurate assessments of the true impacts of drought would provide greater justification for investments in mitigation actions at the local, state, and regional levels. Finally, work could be done to improve early assessments of drought impacts through the application of appropriate models (i.e., crop, hydrological).
Assess the science and technology needs for improving drought planning, mitigation, and response at the local, state, tribal, regional, and national levels. To do this, it might be necessary to evaluate current drought planning models available to governments and other authorities for developing drought mitigation plans at the state and local levels of government and require plans to follow proposed standards or guidelines. Efforts could be made to identify improved triggers (i.e., links between climate/water supply indicators/indices and impacts) for the phase-in and phase-out of drought mitigation and response programs and actions during drought events. Work could be done to develop vulnerability profiles for various economic sectors, population groups, and regions and to identify appropriate mitigation actions for reducing vulnerability to drought for critical sectors.
Increase awareness of drought, its impacts, trends in societal vulnerability, and the need for improved drought management. This might include initiating K-12 drought/water awareness programs/curricula or launching public awareness campaigns for adult audiences, directed at water conservation and the wise stewardship of natural resources.
Design more focused and systematic education and outreach programs for stakeholders based on information derived from periodic surveys of their interests. From the results of such surveys, design workshops tailored to the specific interests of different combinations of stakeholders with the objective of producing decision-support tools on a continuing basis.